A Peaceful Kick to the Groin

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has just awarded the nemesis of Bush, Bolton, Sharon and the neocrazies – Mohamed ElBaradei and his staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency – the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."

The IAEA was established in 1957 with the dual objectives of (a) facilitating "the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world" and (b) ensuring "so far as it is able" that atomic energy is not "used in such a way as to further any military purpose."

To accomplish the latter, the IAEA concludes safeguards agreements with IAEA member states.

Under safeguards, IAEA inspectors "shall have access at all times to all places and data and to any person who by reason of his occupation deals with [safeguarded] materials, equipment, or facilities" as necessary "to determine whether there is compliance with the undertaking against use in furtherance of any military purpose."

In the event IAEA inspectors detect noncompliance with a safeguards agreement – including its health and safety provisions – they shall make a report to the director-general, who shall then report to the IAEA Board of Governors, who shall then make a report to all IAEA members, the UN General Assembly, and the UN Security Council.

The Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which came into force in 1970, requires each NPT signatory not already having nuclear weapons to conclude and adhere to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement covering certain specified nuclear materials, facilities, and activities "for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

Hence, the NPT takes advantage of the already existing IAEA safeguards regime – including the noncompliance-reporting mechanism provided for by the IAEA Statute – to prevent the diversion of significant quantities of "special nuclear materials" to a military purpose. But, in so doing, the NPT does not somehow transform the IAEA into a nuke proliferation-prevention agency.

The IAEA is not responsible for preventing – or even detecting – nuke proliferation. It is merely responsible for verifying compliance with all aspects of its safeguards agreements, including the health and safety provisions thereof.

Bush and the neocrazies came to power, determined to effect – by force, if necessary – "regime change" in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. But all the polls said you soccer moms would not countenance the preemptive use of force against those regimes unless they had – or soon would have – nukes to give to terrorists.

But Iraq and Iran were then deemed by the IAEA to be in compliance with their IAEA safeguards agreements, and North Korea was determined to be in compliance with its IAEA-verified Agreed Framework with the United States.

Bummer!

So, upon coming to power, Bush launched a concerted effort to (a) replace ElBaradei, (b) discredit the IAEA safeguards regime, and (c) provoke Iraq, Iran, and North Korea into withdrawing from the NPT.

In late 2002, Bush did provoke North Korea into withdrawing from the NPT.

In early 2003, Bush preemptively invaded Iraq, totally disregarding ElBaradei’s authoritative report to the Security Council that there had been no resumption of nuclear activities in Iraq – peaceful or otherwise.

But Bush’s invasion of Iraq and provocation of North Korea did not provoke Iran into withdrawing from the NPT. Rather, in early 2003 Iran signed an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement and immediately began to adhere to it.

Last November, ElBaradei reported to the IAEA Board that – although Iran had previously not reported materials and activities it should have – Iran was in substantive compliance with its safeguards agreement, including its additional protocol.

Furthermore, ElBaradei reported that he had found no indication that Iran had ever diverted any quantity of "special nuclear materials" to a military purpose. In other words, Iran has never been in noncompliance with the NPT.

So Bush demanded the Board ignore ElBaradei’s recent reports of substantial compliance and make the pre-2003 failures to comply the basis for a referral of Iran’s safeguarded programs to the Security Council as a "threat to peace and security."

Now comes the Peace Prize for ElBaradei and his staff, which a Committee spokesman claims was not intended to be "a kick to the legs" to Bush.

How about to the groin?

Read more by Gordon Prather

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. — ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.